If you have been paying any attention to the headlines, you know that Walmart recently announced the closing of 269 stores worldwide, including 154 stores in the United States. Stores began shutting down just two days after the announcement and have continued over the past few weeks. If one of the store closings is in your area, you have an opportunity to gain a huge amount of new business in your pharmacy, and acting quickly will be critical to your success in this area. Many PDS Members have reached out to ask for our recommendations and assistance in leveraging this opportunity.
1. Contact store management.
Pharmacy staff members at your local Walmart may be concerned about the well-being of their patients after the store closing. Take time to get in touch with them and offer your services to take care of their patients. Provide some flyers or business cards to be kept at the pharmacy counter.
A personal visit is worth 1,000 phone calls! As a pharmacy owner, you will be amazed at the results if you are able to build a strong relationship with big-box staff members before the store closes. You may gain insider information and they may be willing to distribute or display a letter on your behalf. Pharmacy staff will feel compelled to send dozens of patients to your store if they know you personally.
2. Recruit pharmacy talent.
Ask about top staff members that will soon be without a job. Excellent pharmacy staff can be difficult to find, so don’t miss the opportunity to recruit excellent talent with prior pharmacy experience in your local area.
3. Use traditional marketing techniques.
Radio, newspaper, TV and direct mail can all be great avenues to reach Walmart customers. Target your message to the Walmart audience and make them aware that their friendly local pharmacy is ready and willing to take over their healthcare needs.
4. Offer incentives.
Provide an in-store coupon for all former Walmart customers. You can make this coupon available on your website and in local newspapers. The Walmart coupon should be applicable to any customer transferring prescriptions. You may also choose to provide incentives or a contest for staff members who bring in the largest number of prescription transfers from family, friends and strangers alike.
5. Use social media marketing.
Create an advertisement for Facebook. You will have the ability to target cities where Walmarts are closing and select “liked Walmart” as a criteria for the audience who sees your ad. For only $5 or $10, your advertisement will be viewed by thousands of people on Facebook.
6. Implement a referral program.
Make a coupon for existing patients to share with family and friends. When they bring in a former Walmart patient, a discount is provided on any purchase for both the new and existing patient.
In any communication with Walmart patients, it may be productive to emphasize the importance of their health care and the fact that you have been and continue to, serve the community, offering pricing that is comparable and often times cheaper than local big-box stores. The message is that their neighborhood pharmacy is still eager to meet all of their health care needs. The local independent pharmacy is still their premier, reliable healthcare provider. Now is the time for independents to make it known that you can and will compete with out of pocket costs, and have been for many years or decades.
When an opportunity like this presents itself, time is of the essence. Independent pharmacy owners must be prepared to act quickly and effectively. That’s why it is so important to have a team of experts behind you. When news of Walmart closings became apparent a few weeks ago, PDS Members immediately worked with their Business Coaches and Performance Specialists to develop a plan of attack. Our members are already beginning to transition patients from local Walmarts into their pharmacies.
With PDS support, our members are able to move faster and more effectively than other independents. If you’re interested in learning more about how PDS can help you, like we help hundreds of other independents nationwide, sign up to speak with one of our Business Advisors. The conversation will be quick, easy and hassle-free.